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Academic misconduct (cheating) in exams

Guidance to help you avoid committing an assessment offence during your online exams.

Academic misconduct and accessing information during your exams

The University is aware that a small number of students have been accessing unauthorised sources of information during the online, remote exams. Instances include discussing questions and answers with peers, and using e-cheating tools such as essay mills and model answer sites like Chegg.

Activity like this goes against:

Failing to observe these rules is an assessment offence, namely cheating.

Acts of academic misconduct involve students seeking to:

  • gain an unfair advantage over their peers during an assessment
  • misrepresent their knowledge and skills to academic staff to obtain higher grades
  • mislead future employers

The University takes such offences very seriously and the penalties reflect this, which can range from having to retake an exam to being expelled from the University (see QA53 Examination and Assessment Offences for more details).

Exams are designed to test your individual understanding and knowledge of your discipline, without external assistance, in a time-pressured environment. This is true for open book exams, which allow you to access authorised resources to find and cite information you use to construct your answers.

Sources of information

If your assessment requires or allows you to use external sources of information (for example, during an open book exam), you should understand the difference between authorised and unauthorised sources of information.

Authorised sources of information

As a general rule, authorised sources include those that are signposted to you by your course tutors and University services, such as Library resources (books, e-books, journals, e-journals, and reading lists).

Unauthorised sources of information

Unauthorised sources are extremely wide-ranging, often most easily accessible via search engines, and may be predatory (making contact with you via email, social media, or messaging apps) or promotional (featured content from advertising providers). Some require a fee, others are free.

For the purposes of exams, discussing questions and answers with your peers also constitutes accessing unauthorised sources of information.

Taking your exams

If you are unsure of what you can or cannot do in your exams please check the Academic Integrity Statement for Remote Assessments and speak to your tutor ahead of the starting time.

If you are uncertain after an exam has begun, consider thinking about the remote exams as if they were invigilated and taking place in an exam hall. We strongly recommend you:

  • keep your phone off
  • disable email
  • remove any desktop messaging apps during your attempt
  • do not talk about questions and answers until the window closes, unless you and the other parties have submitted your exam

Some examples of what could be considered an offence that you may not have considered include:

  • Being an observer to a group chat about your exam while it is ongoing
  • Responding (positively) to a request from a fellow student for help with a question – even if you don’t see the question itself
  • Posting exam questions to a model answer sites, such as Chegg – even if you don’t use the answers provided

You are welcome to discuss with your friends or housemates about how you are feeling in order to get support from those around you, but please do not discuss exam questions or answers either in seeking or offering support.

Sources of support before, during, and after assessments

We understand that assessment periods can be very stressful, especially in the current climate. We have a range of services available to provide support and guidance for you to ensure that you are ready for your assessments and able to uphold ethical scholarship practices:

Academic Integrity Webpages – these pages contain links to our digital training package, the Ethical Scholar Toolkit, which provides guidance on referencing and avoiding plagiarism, as well as a referencing database. There is also a link to the University’s regulatory document, QA53, and a summary of your responsibilities as a student for maintaining your own academic integrity.

Academic Integrity Statement for Remote Assessments – a reminder of your agreement with the University to uphold our community’s ethical scholarship standards.

The Skills Centre – experienced staff in the Skills Centre can provide group or individual assistance on developing assessment skills and helping you to solve challenges you are facing with your academic work.

The Library – expert librarians are available to help you with your research skills, referencing support, and finding appropriate resources for your studies.

The Wellbeing Service – our professionals are here to provide advice and support on student wellbeing and welfare throughout your degree.

Student Support Services – our team are available to provide assistance with your needs and to help you get the most out of your degree.

SU Advice and Support Centre – the SU advisors offer confidential, non-judgemental information, advice and support on any issues you may be facing during your degree.

Exams and Assessments hub– has information on what to do if you cannot take or continue with your exam or if you think your attempt might be affected, and links to many of the pages listed above.